McGruff the Crime dog was helping West New York fight crime to celebrate the 17th Annual National Night Out Against Crime.
The National Association of Town Watch sponsored the national celebration, which encourages local residents to stay outside as a show of solidarity against criminals. According to the organization's statistics, Union City and West New York were two of over 9,500 communities from over 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases around the world that participated on Aug. 1."National Night Out Against Crime is an ideal opportunity to build neighborhood unity and strengthen Police-Community partnerships," said
West New York Police Captain Mike Caliguiro last week.
The West New York Police Department was the local sponsor of the West New York events, while the coalition of Union City First headed the
efforts in Union City.
"This night is a chance for neighbors to meet one another," said Lenny Calvo, Union City First secretary and organizer for the 22nd Street
location in Union City. "The concept is to take the streets back from the criminals."
Many games and family oriented events were set up at each location. A giant slide and face painting stands were set up for children while
music blared in the background.
"You see a lot of smiles on the kids faces," said Calvo.
Representatives from the police departments also performed bicycle registrations and the North Hudson Regional Fire department gave a
demonstration on the "Jaws of Life" in an extraction from an abandoned vehicle.
"[This event] brings the children out, teenagers, young adults and senior citizens all together as a group," said Pellichio. "And it hopefully is bringing a better quality of life."
In West New York, activity began at 6 p.m. when Mayor Albio Sires and the Board of Commissioners, escorted by McGruff the Crime Dog, visited each of the senior citizens buildings. This visit kicked off the night of dancing planned at each home until 9 p.m.
"We try to make it a festive thing," said West New York Police Director Joseph Pellichio. "It is quite a show out there, really."
Nationally, the event centers around four goals: heightening crime and drug prevention awareness, generating support and participation in
local anti-crime and drug efforts, strengthening neighborhood spirit and police-community relations, and sending a message to criminals to let them know that the residents are fighting back against crime.
Union City had three main sites set up between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. for residents to participate. Games and music were set up on Palisade Avenue between 9th and 11th streets, on 22nd Street between Bergenline and New York avenues and between 45th and 47th streets on Palisade
West New York planned their block party between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. on 55th Street between Park Avenue and Broadway. The municipal parking lot was also utilized.